Our long-term care news is continually updated from dozens of sources around our industry and the web.

What state has the highest-rated nursing homes? Here’s where they’re best (and worst)

USA Today (12/09/2022) – Researchers say good staffing levels and low turnover are some of the best predictors for good care at a nursing home, but the number of nurses and aides varies greatly between facilities — and between states.

President Joe Biden has called for setting nationwide minimum staffing levels, the details of which should be released this spring for public comment. Thirty-five states have already set their own rules for skilled nursing facilities, with varied results. A recent USA TODAY investigation found that inspectors rarely penalize nursing homes that fall short of staffing benchmarks. Full story »

Providers warned: Ongoing relief fund audits may bring unprecedented info demands

McKnights (11/21/2022) – Provider Relief Fund audits have started in earnest, with the threat of federal investigators demanding more and different data than most skilled nursing providers have ever been asked to account for.

Audits will run in waves over the next two years, but there are key steps providers can take to keep the reporting and auditing process less stressful, experts emphasize.

First and foremost, document everything related to COVID-19 expenses, Brian Lee, a partner in Alston & Bird’s Healthcare Group, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. Better, tie the documentation to the guidance that existed at the time of any spending decision. He said it’s a logical connection to what you were doing and when you did it in relation to the requirements of the program. Full story »

Long-term care expert touts optimism, advice for 2023 after tough year

McKnights (11/17/2022) – Staffing, reimbursement and regulatory pressures may have given providers a black eye in 2022, but leaders well-versed in regulatory expectations will be ready to rise to new challenges in 2023.

That’s according to care expert Trish Richardson, MSN, RN, who led a webinar Wednesday on how providers can use lessons from a tough 2022 to forge a successful year ahead. Full story »

Why Nursing Home Primary Care and Risk-Based Strategies Must Go Hand in Hand

Skilled Nursing News (11/15/2022) – Leaders in the skilled nursing space have increasingly seen value in creating a primary care strategy, with some intending to become part of a risk-based model as part of that strategy — especially as acuity continues to be high among residents.

Operators looking to shift to such a strategy need a clear vision of how physicians will play a critical role in their organization, according to Stephen Taylor, principal and senior living and care segment leader at CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA). Reliable data to better understand their patient population is also a must. Full story »

White House to extend PHE designation through April, reports say

McKnights (11/14/2022) – The federal government will extend the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration until at least April, according to published reports.

The development would be roundly applauded by long-term care operators, and other healthcare providers.

American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in August that the sector sorely needed extensions until at least April to create a bigger window to lobby state legislatures to enrich their Medicaid pay rates. Full story »

Providers ‘on notice’ as CMS pressures states to shift Medicaid pay metrics

McKnights (11/10/2022) – Providers still struggling to accurately capture diagnoses that drive federal reimbursement will be doubly left behind as more states start to use Patient Driven Payment Model-like systems to determine long-stay Medicaid pay rates.

That was the warning Wednesday from reimbursement experts Vincent Fedele, chief operating officer of CORE Analytics, and Michael Sciacca, chief operating officer at Zimmet Healthcare Services Group. Full story »

Nearly half of states now using Medicaid to boost direct-care pay

McKnights (11/04/2022) – At least 19 states are actively implementing strategies to address direct care worker wages through reporting and/or enforcement mechanisms, a report issued this week by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices found.

“Although many healthcare providers have received rate increases through temporary federal COVID-19 relief and state funding, only a limited number of states have policies to ensure funds are passed on to direct care workers,” the report stated. “The direct care workforce represents a critical component of the United States employment market, yet pay remains low. States have taken a variety of actions through provider rate increases and minimum wage policies through the Medicaid program as two strategies to address recruitment and retention.” Full story »

Why Non-Therapy Ancillaries, Nursing are Key to High Performance Under PDPM

Skilled Nursing News (11/03/2022) – As the SNF sector enters its third year under the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM), data analytics and consulting firms like Zimmet Healthcare Services Group are finding stark differences in reimbursement levels between top-performing operators and those at the bottom of the barrel.

For one, the top 10% of SNF providers have rates $70 over the average, while the bottom 10% of providers are $70 below the average. The difference is buried in nursing and non-therapy ancillary services, according to Zimmet Director of Analytics and Partner Vincent Fedele. Full story »